Report: Massive schools of stripers and one big bluefish

I’ve fished a lot this week (much to the chagrin of my fiance). This is due to a couple of reasons:

  1. The fishing has been steadily getting better. Bait is filling the bay (all types) and I’m hearing all kinds of reports of big fish all across the Southern MA coast. The canal lit up yesterday, and Buzzard Bay has been “on fire” the past few mornings. It’s an exciting time to fish.
  2. A few mornings ago, I was fishing a spook plug, not really paying attention, when a massive splash erupted behind my plug. The fish didn’t take it but I knew it was big, and I knew I wanted to catch that fish. This tells me there is at least one big fish where I’ve been fishing–I just need to figure out what it wants to eat.
  3. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet. Lastly (and most importantly), I’m getting married in June. This weekend is the bachelor party, so no fishing for me. But due to the fact that I’m getting married smack dab in the middle of prime striper time, I’m feeling the pressure to fish as much as physically possible before the wedding. This again, is much to the chagrin of my fiance.

 

This has led me to make many unsuccessful attempts to find stripers this spring. The late start to the season hasn’t been kind to my fishing-trip-to-fish-caught ratio.

So, while I sat on my couch this evening, looking at the gray sky and the drizzle of rain and my kayak sitting on the roof of my car, I seriously debated whether or not I wanted to make effort.

I asked Daisy Dukes the Wonder Dog if I should fish and she stopped playing with her brand new pigeon toy, stared at me, then went back to trying to remove the squeakbox from the the stuffed bird. I took this as an affirmative answer.

At the estuary, all was quiet. The incoming tide moved swiftly up-river. I made a few casts from shore and, after not seeing any life, came very close to packing up and heading back home.

I’m glad I didn’t.

By the time I got my bulky kayak off the roof, two other fishermen had joined–one in a kayak and the other shore-bound.

I paddled hard, fighting the current to get out to the channel. Suddenly, all around me, the water erupted. Wide striped flanks shone in the water and disappeared.

“I just spooked a massive school of fish,” I said to my two compatriots.

At this moment, there was a loud splash and a screaming drag. The shore-bound angler was tight to something big.

He fought the fish and eventually got it to his feet. I watched from my kayak.

“It’s a gorilla blue!” he said. He held the big fish up for a quick picture and released it.

Now my heart was pumping. How the hell could I have not wanted to come out!? Stripers on top and blues feeding around them? Let’s get going.

I moved up-current and set my drift along the channel edge. One cast with my Jumpin’ Minnow and I was on. It didn’t exactly put up a fight like the blue had.

I pulled a 12-inch striped bass to the side of my kayak.

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The schools of bass hung lazily around the surface. Every hundred yards, my paddle would spook another massive school of fish. I paddled slowly so I could see the schools, and saw big fish grazing along the surface. Big, meaning 32+ inch fish.

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The Jumpin’ Minnow (and later the Zara Spook, as I gave the Jumpin’ Minnow to a guy in a kayak who had only brought an SP minnow) caught their fair share of fish, the biggest being around 24 inches. I even got to pull out the fly rod, although I didn’t get any on my newly-tied olive clouser minnow. But damn, that thing looked good swimming at the side of my kayak.

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As the tide slackened, the bite died. I loaded the kayak onto the roof in the dark (with the help of my new buddy).

My thumb was only slightly torn-up from the sandpaper mouths of stripers, but it was a start.

 

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